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Special Feature on Smart City

2016-10-22

Literature abounds with references to "smart city" and "big data" approaches to solving urban problems. The purpose of this article is to analyze these approaches by looking at recent "best practices" in the implementation of "smart city" solutions. These peer-reviewed practices are drawn from the Guangzhou International Award for Urban Innovation – a biennial award co-sponsored by UCLG and Metropolis devoted to recognizing outstanding initiatives in striving for urban sustainability. More specifically, the solutions reviewed in this paper originate from different regions and contexts in the hopes of drawing some useful observations regarding what smart city approaches can do for a city and its inhabitants. In this edition of our newsletter three initiatives have been selected for the originality in their approaches and what we hope are useful lessons to be learned from experience.

The city of Dubuque in USA, in cooperation with IBM, launched the "Smarter Sustainable Dubuque" project which aims at building the first smart city in America. The plan utilizes the Internet of Things to connect people with their use of public resources in a community of 60,000 residents. In so doing, Smart Sustainable Dubuque is engaging its citizens in bridging the "silos" between different departments, utilities and services, saving people money and doing good.

Hamburg in Germany initiated the program of "The International Building Exhibition IBA-Hamburg and its' Climate Protection Concept Renewable Wilhelmsburg'". It is designed to seek out ways not only to make the maximum use of local renewable energy, such as reducing energy consumption and increasing energy efficiency, but also to boost economic development through energy optimization in a disadvantaged part of the city.

Bristol, U.K. adopted the "Smart City Bristol" initiative, a public-private-people approach to improve public awareness on Smart Energy, Smart Transport and Smart Data. Being people-driven, the program carried out various innovative practices by virtue of the smart development of ICT and digital connectivity.

These three case studies underscore the key ingredients for a successful smart city approach:

•Engaging people and putting people first;

•Open sharing of information and bridging the "silos" especially across government departments, utilities and serviced providers;

•Strategic use of data and not, as some would lead us to believe, "big data"; in fact in all three cases and many others we have analyzed most if not all the data is available, it just isn't being presented and analyzed with people's benefits and welfare in mind.